A low-cost version of the iPhone (s aapl) will be apparently be shipped to China Mobile, that country’s largest mobile operator with nearly 745 million subscribers. While a deal between China Mobile and Apple(s aapl) hasn’t been announced by either party, the Wall Street Journal on Friday said Apple plans to ship the device to China Mobile, implying a deal has already been made. It’s likely the news will become official on September 10, when Apple holds a press event on its Cupertino campus.
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Rumors and leaks of a cheaper handset, dubbed the iPhone 5C, have cropped up for several months although the details of the handset are still largely under wraps. The phone is expected to debut at next week’s press event, likely alongside a new handset that will be an upgrade from the current iPhone 5. The iPhone 5S is seen as the most probable name for that device.
Why would Apple — long known for premium products with prices to match — be interested in creating a lesser iPhone? The company hasn’t yet cracked the huge markets of China and India; the two most populous nations on the planet. Instead, consumers there have been buying phones made by Samsung, Nokia(s nok), Huawei, Lenovo and smaller local vendors that are taking advantage of Android(s goog).